What Common Core IS and ISN’T

There have been many jokes, comments, and criticisms against Common Core State Standards (aka Common Core/CC/CCSS). Many of them are made in ignorance; whether in not understanding the new standards or methods, I’m not sure. So let’s take a look at what Common Core is and isn’t.

What Common Core Is

Common Core is a group of standards (goals or objectives) that are set for all students. Some states have pulled out of Common Core, but still have their own state standards that are set for their students. CCSS simply states that for all students in Grade X, they will meet these objectives, regardless of where they live. So what 5th graders in CA are learning, is the same as what 5th graders in MI are learning. According to Common Core State Standards Initiative:

State education chiefs and governors in 48 states came together to develop the Common Core, a set of clear college- and career-ready standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. Today, 43 states have voluntarily adopted and are working to implement the standards, which are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to take credit bearing introductory courses in two- or four-year college programs or enter the workforce.

Seems pretty benign, right? One would think so. So why all the hate? Some groups have twisted the facts, and money makers (i.g. textbook companies) have put their own spin on it.

What Does a Standard Look Like?

Here are some Language Arts and Math Standards at different grade levels:

  • 3rd Grade Language Arts: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.3.3.C
    Decode multisyllable words.
  • 7th Grade Writing: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.7
    Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions for further research and investigation.
  • 1st Grade Math: CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.1.NBT.C.6
    Subtract multiples of 10 in the range 10-90 from multiples of 10 in the range 10-90 (positive or zero differences), using concrete models or drawings and strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction; relate the strategy to a written method and explain the reasoning used.
  • 5th Grade Math: CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NF.B.6
    Solve real world problems involving multiplication of fractions and mixed numbers, e.g., by using visual fraction models or equations to represent the problem.

What Common Core Isn’t

It isn’t a Standardized Test – The high stakes testing came about during George W. Bush’s Presidency with the introduction of No Child Left Behind. It also tied test scores to sanctions against poor performing schools.

It isn’t a specific way of solving a math problem; a method – Yes, both examples of math standards (above) state two (2) ways to solve. HOWEVER, nowhere does it state that a student must draw a subtraction problem in one particular way. NOR does it state that there is one correct equation format. Ideally, a teacher models several methods and the student chooses the one(s) that is/are right for him/her. The idea is to have the students actively thinking and solving problems in various ways.

It isn’t the same – No longer are we teaching the ‘shortcuts’. For example, telling students to regroup or ‘borrow’ with a problem like: 34 – 19. No longer do we just say, ‘More on the top, no need to stop; More on the floor go next door‘ without explaining (and showing through various models) why. It’s now about the deeper understanding.

Still Against Common Core?

Which standard should your child NOT learn?

One thought on “What Common Core IS and ISN’T

  1. Tim April 28, 2015 / 9:03 pm

    Awesome post, very well writ. I literally had someone explain to me how ccss was perpetuating the mark of the beast, and that we were starting to monitor students through wrist bands. Ugh

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